The vibe at one of Minnetonka’s newest eateries, Glen Lake Café, differs from other spots in town. It’s a modern neighborhood restaurant with the urban look and feel of an Uptown lunch spot—all with a New Zealand twist, owner Tom Peterson says. Peterson, also a co-owner of Excelsior hot spot 318 Café, opened Glen Lake in Minnetonka in October, but the idea has been percolating for four years.
Before launching his two lake-area restaurants, Peterson worked in nearly every corner of the restaurant business. He began as a food supervisor at Dayton’s in the 1990s, worked in the front of house at Lucia’s in Uptown, then co-owned the Green Room in Waconia from 2006 until it closed in 2010. Peterson says he has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but as he began to approach his late 30s, he realized that he wanted a greater stake in a restaurant and jumped at the opportunity to own a piece of the Lake Minnetonka area. That’s when he opened the 318 Café in 2004. “I really love this work,” he says. “I love working with good food and wine.”
Peterson’s entrepreneurial spirit was piqued again after traveling to New Zealand on a family trip. The father of two noticed not only the freshness of the food, but also the laid-back and neighborhood feel of its restaurants. “They were very wholesome and the quality was very high,” he says. He kept this trip in mind when scouting Glen Lake’s location, a spot that had been vacant for four years and one that is within walking distance of his Minnetonka home. After driving past it daily, he snatched it up and transformed it into the kind of space where he and his staff would want to eat.
Like her boss, Mecca Bos spent many years in the restaurant business before accepting the café’s position of head chef. She had been a sous-chef, a cheese monger and also works as a food writer. She joined the restaurant staff in March and says it’s been a labor of love. She has enjoyed the opportunity to put her stamp on the kitchen. “We have the opportunity to make a scratch kitchen out here in the burbs, where people might not think we can do that,” Bos says. “We have the opportunity to be a hidden gem.”
Peterson agrees. “There are not a lot of small independent restaurants that have an urban feel, that you typically find in the city, out in the suburbs,” he says. “But they are starting to pop up a bit, which is a nice trend.”
Peterson often shops at farmers markets, as the menu focuses on local, fresh and organic ingredients and is constantly evolving. This gives Bos an opportunity to flex her creativity. “I want to make sure that things look great and taste great,” she says. The menu is a mix of traditional Minnesota comfort staples, such as a pot roast sandwich that many diners have deemed “as good as Grandma’s,” and inventive chef specials and fine-dining options. The café also has a baker, and the restaurant sells a variety of craft brews and wines.
With its booths, high-top tables and white walls, the spot drew 20-year veteran server Bobbi Galush to the eatery. Galush says her favorite part of her job is the upbeat energy Glen Lake’s customers bring. Peterson seconds her sentiments, and says that energy is his favorite thing about owning a restaurant. “I get to meet a lot of my neighbors that I otherwise wouldn’t meet,” he says. The feeling is mutual: The restaurant’s cheery feel and from-scratch menu will surely keep Glen Lake Café “in the neighborhood” for many years to come.
Glen Lake Café
14725 Excelsior Blvd.